Helen Schaefer lost her husband after a long illness and she’s wary of getting involved with Alec Fraser. She’s had enough of loss and is unwilling to let herself be vulnerable to that kind of grief again. Alec is a widower and knows all too well the devastating grief of losing a spouse. And while he’s open to starting a new relationship, he has his own issues to sort out with his family—particularly his son, Devlin.
The pace of this novel was too slow for me. Johnson fleshes out Helen’s character beyond the romance, but for the most part, I found those bits boring. More interesting is Alec’s home life and his struggle to communicate with Devlin. Johnson evokes the love, frustration and helplessness Alec feels when his efforts fail repeatedly, and his family situation comes across as real and honest. Disappointingly, the resolution of his conflict with Devlin is much too abrupt.
Helen’s issues seem a bit more contrived. Her reluctance to get involved with Alec is understandable to a point—after that, she starts to sound a bit silly. And her reaction to the big issue that comes up at the end of the book struck me as over the top.
Johnson’s strength in this book is in showing families trying to repair themselves after a devastating event. It’s a sombre story for the most part, although there are occasional bits of subtle humour that I found lovely. I wish there had been more of them.
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